Mortal Kombat: Deception has already been available for the PS2 and the Xbox for months now. The core of the Cube version remains identical although there are a few new features that try to make up for the lack of online play. We all know that nothing can make up for lack of online play but Cube players are resigned to their fate. The good news is that Mortal Kombat: Deception is still a great without the online modes. It’s intense, frenetic, strategic, violent and bloody.
MK is infamous for its graphic display of violence. Bones crack and shatter, appendages fly and blood squirts. That tradition has not softened one bit in Deception, a game that picks up where the last one left off.
Try as they might, there’s always some kind of story forced into each game in this series. It’s really nothing more than a set up for a good fight. Nobody gives a rat about the story, they just want to get down and dirty and start breaking some necks. And who can blame them? The fighting system is one of the best. I can’t say that it’s been improved much since the last game but for what it offers doesn’t need much improvement.
Mortal Kombat has always looked and played like an arcade game. The fighters are kind of stiff and the animation can be choppy in places. It’s got a long way to go to rival the fluidity of Tekken 5. But MK’s style is original and those that are loyal to the series wouldn’t have it any other way, although I doubt they would complain about an animation upgrade.
The Cube version offers two new characters and a few mini-game style modes. Not enough to compensate for the online mode but it’s better than nothing. I enjoyed these odd modes a lot more than I thought I would. More on those later.
Another feature of the Cube version is that many of the characters are unlocked right from the start. You don’t have to slog away in the Konquest mode to unlock them. There are 20 fighters available at the beginning of the game including Shao Kahn, one of the two new fighters exclusive to the Cube. He wields a Thor-style hammer which can do a lot of damage. Kahn himself is powerful although he lacks agility. Such are the tradeoffs.
All of the fighters are well balanced. They each have different attacks, chains and combos not to mention three different sets of martial arts moves which can be changed on the fly, even in mid combo. The fact that most of the moves correspond to the same button scheme is a godsend. You can go from fighter to fighter with relative ease. You will get to use weapons with at least one of the of martial art sets. What’s Mortal Kombat without a deadly, razor sharp blade?
The attacks can be absolutely brutal. You or your opponent can look forward to being punched, kicked, thrown, twisted, cut, sliced, hammered, stomped, torn, peeled, contorted, distorted, dismembered, beheaded, impaled and ultimately killed. These animations are so over-the-top you just can’t help but laugh. It’s so sick, dude. Even when you do get killed you only lose the round and not the match.
Pitfalls offer another way to die. Edge your opponent towards a spike-filled hole and drop him in for an instant end to the round. These pitfalls are purely optional though they do add another element of strategy to the game. Speaking of strategy, combo breaks are a new feature that allow you to block a combo attack when you’re on the receiving end of one. There are only a few of these for each match so you have to use them strategically.
Each character is allowed two fatalities instead of one. Every single fatality is horrifying. I imagine there’s going to be a number of parental concerns and complaints over these, as if there weren’t already. If you don’t like to die at the hands of your conqueror you have the option of committing hara-kiri which is a form of suicide favored in the East when one loses face. It involves jabbing a sword into one’s stomach. Either way you’re going to get killed so you might as well do it yourself and rob your enemy of the satisfaction. It’s especially annoying when you’re the winner and you get robbed of finishing your opponent off.
A chess and Tetris-style mini-game modes may seem a little out of place in a game such as MK but they offer diversion. In the Chess Kombat mode you will move characters on a grid in turn-based fashion. Opposing characters that come face-to-face will have to fight it out. It shares more in common with checkers than chess. The Puzzle Kombat mode is a fun puzzle game where the object is to match colored blocks with similar colored icons as they slowly descend in your bin. When you match them up they will explode and send stray blocks into your enemy’s bin.
The music is thunderous and really sets the stage for such barbarous behavior. The sound effects take front and center stage with a variety of screams, shouts, grunts, smacks, thuds, clangs, cracks and splats.
The longer you play the better you get. There’s plenty of depth to the combat system which will keep you returning to the fighting long after you’ve exploited the additional modes.